JSerra Catholic High School Hosts Japanese POW Louis Zamperini to Speak About His Book Unbroken

A Press Release from JSerra Catholic

August 2, 2012 (San Juan Capistrano, CA)—JSerra Catholic hosts1936 Olympian, and former World War ll prisoner of war Louis Zamperini for a rare appearance.

Zamperini once a world record holder of the high school 5000-meter for the fastest time, and a graduate of the University of Southern California, joined the United States Air Corps as a bombardier in the South Pacific.

“When you reach the end of your rope and there’s nowhere else to turn,” said Zamperini, “…you’re gonna turn and look up. So that’s all we did on the raft was pray morning, noon and night, [after our plane went down].”

Zamperini’s encouraging journey, has been documented in Pulitzer Prize winning author, Laura Hillenbrand’s latest book, UNBROKEN:  Louis Zamperini’s Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption.

“Every summer as a school students, faculty, and staff read a book together, this year we read Unbroken, the journey of Mr. Zamperini and for the first time ever we have the honor of hosting him on the JSerra campus,” said Donna Vandenberg, JSerra VP of Student Services.

At 95-years of age, Zamperini is still spry and full of life.  He lectures audiences across the globe, on how to deal with stress, the meaning of Olympism, and the freedom he found through a personal relationship with God.

Friday, September 7, 2012 at 11 a.m. Zamperini will share his life’s journey and recent book Unbroken with the JSerra community. This rare speaking engagement is open to the general public and will be held in the JSerra Pavilion.



JSerra Pavilion Selected as Venue for Olympic-Caliber Volleyball Match

JSerra Catholic, a member of the highly competitive Trinity League in Orange County, today announced that the state-of-the-art JSerra Pavilion has been selected as the venue for the U.S. Men’s National Indoor Volleyball Team vs. Argentina exhibition matches this month. The matches are scheduled at 7:30 PM (PDT) on Friday, April 27 and 2:00 PM (PDT) on Sunday, April 29.  Tickets start at $10 and may be purchased in advance at http://jserravball.eventbrite.com/, or at the door.  JSerra Pavilion is located at 26300 Junipero Serra Road in San Juan Capistrano, California.

“JSerra is proud to once again be selected as a preferred Southern California venue by the U.S. Men’s Indoor Volleyball Team,” said Dave Lawn, Athletic Director at JSerra.  “Our head volleyball coach, Tim Layton, is a passionate advocate of competitive volleyball at all levels, and he and his teams dedicate hundreds of man-hours preparing for these Olympic-caliber matches and inviting the community to witness world-class competition.”

The U.S. Men are the defending Olympic champions and ranked sixth in the world. The team trains at the American Sports Centers in Anaheim, Calif., Official Host City of the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams. Argentina is ranked eighth in the world.

“These matches will be very important in preparing us for the NORCECA Men’s Continental Olympic Qualifier,” U.S. Head Coach Alan Knipe said. “That’s why we try to replicate the official playing conditions as closely as possible.  JSerra’s Pavilion is among the highest caliber gymnasiums in Southern California.  We are grateful for our continued partnership with Coach Layton and JSerra.”

The doors to JSerra Pavilion will open one hour prior to the official start time each day.  Parking is available adjacent the JSerra Pavilion for $10, across the street at the JSerra Academic Campus for $5, and at the public Park & Ride at the Northbound Junipero Serra freeway exit for free.  Seats are first-come, first-served and subject to selling out.  Fans are encouraged to buy tickets online in advance.  On the day of the events, arrive early and allow time for a brief walk to ensure the best seats.  The JSerra snack bar will be open both days, and a Carl’s Jr. catering truck will be on site at the JSerra Pavilion from 6 PM – 9 PM during Friday’s match.

Katie McLaughlin Takes a Dive Towards Olympic Trials

McLaughlin making waves poolside at JSerra

Freshman swimmer Katie McLaughlin (14) didn’t waste any time testing the waters at JSerra, making a splash with her Olympic trials qualification for the summer 2012 Olympic games in London. Taking a quick breather McLaughlin sat down with JSerra Blog to talk about her goals in and out of the pool, along with the pressures of coach and mom Mary’s Olympic success.

What made you choose JSerra?

I really like the fact that it’s a smaller school and the community here. I also shadowed and it felt right, I’m looking forward to going to JSerra, especially swim.

How did you qualify for the Olympic trials?

I had a qualifying meet at Stanford and made it by half a second, which is considered a pretty big deal in swim.

Do you feel any pressure because of all the success your mom has had making it the Olympics in swimming?

(Laughing) Everyone always asks me that, but I don’t feel any pressure. My mom has always been super supportive, if anything I think I put more pressure on myself.

What motivates or inspires you to keep improving in swim?

One of my friends, Jesse (12), was diagnosed with a brain tumor and can no longer swim. She has such a great and positive attitude and although she can’t swim she helps others with tumors, and never asks for anything in return. She has this motto that she lives by that I have adopted as my own, “Never Ever Give Up.”


TV show: Pretty Little Liars

Food: Bagels

Animal: Lion

Disney character: Tigger

Childhood toy: Polly Pocket

Olympics ‘Always in Back of My Mind,’ JSerra High Jumper Says

Harrison Steed
The Orange County Register published an outstanding profile today of JSerra’s record-setting high jumper Harrison Steed.

The Berkeley-bound athlete told columnist Steve Fryer that his track-and-field ambitions extend beyond college to the Olympics.

“That’s always in the back of my mind,” he said. “It’s definitely a goal to get there some day.”

To read the article, click here.

Football Team’s Historic Victory the Latest Exciting Development at JSerra

The following letter was distributed to members of the JSerra community this week:

There's a lot to celebrate at JSerra
There's a lot to celebrate at JSerra

When the final whistle blew, the scoreboard read: JSerra 14, Santa Margarita 12. It was our varsity football team’s first Trinity League victory in 15 tries.  The reaction at Saddleback Community College was spontaneous and wonderful. Players doused coach Jim Hartigan with Gatorade. Lion Nation stormed the field to congratulate the players. It was an historic accomplishment for the team, our young school and the community.

To read more about our undefeated football team (6-0), please visit JSerra Blog. We invite you to join Lion Nation at our next home varsity game on October 30 at 7:30PM against Mater Dei at Saddleback. To view the varsity football schedule, click here.

Football isn’t the only activity generating excitement on campus. Our boys’ and girls’ cross country teams are ranked among the best in the state. The team is coached by Martin Dugard, an author of nine books whose current non-fiction piece, “The Murder of King Tut,” debuted fifth on the New York Times list of best sellers.

Our ice hockey team, led by former Anaheim Ducks David Karpa and Guy Hebert, is also off to a strong start with an 8-2-1 overall record.Varsity Team

And the campus is anxiously awaiting the start of the girls’ water polo season. The team is coached by Julie Swail-Ertel, captain of the 2000 silver medalist U.S. Olympic team. Julie also represented the U.S.A. last summer in the triathlon at the Beijing Games.

For more on our fast start to the new school year (which includes a National Merit Scholarship Finalist and 34 Advanced Placement winners), please read CEO Frank Talarico’s most recent column in the Capistrano Dispatch.

Parents, want to support JSerra athletics while enjoying a great night out? Attend JSerra’s annual Casino Night on November 7 at the JSerra Pavilion. For just $50 you’ll enjoy great food, live music, a hosted bar, casino-style gaming and a fabulous auction (just in time for early Christmas shopping). Visit www.jserra.org/gtcn for more information.

If you haven’t had the chance to view our beautiful campus in person, view it virtually at www.jserra.org/tour. Don’t miss our Open House & Campus Tour on November 12 from 6:00-8:00PM in the JSerra Pavilion.

JSerra CEO: ‘This Will Be Our Best Year Yet’

The following column was published in the current edition of the Capistrano Dispatch.

By Frank Talarico

Last year was big for JSerra Catholic High School.

Frank Talarico
Frank Talarico

We won our first Trinity League sports championships, graduated our largest senior class (including our first National Merit Scholarship winner) and contributed to the community in hundreds of notable ways.

All our accomplishments last year beg the question: Can we top them this year?

Yes, we can.

I predict JSerra’s seventh year will be its best yet.

More than 200 seniors wearing freshly pressed uniforms walked through the halls of our $110-million campus on Sept. 1 – the first day of school. This is our biggest – and most talented – senior class yet.

Our student retention rate is also breaking JSerra records. It’s at 85% and climbing.

Here’s another telling statistic: During the worst recession since the Great Depression, we have maintained enrollment and may even grow enrollment for the year.

What do the numbers tell us?

They illustrate the tremendous value of a JSerra education. Families continue to invest in a JSerra education knowing it will prepare their children for a successful college career and to be contributing members of our society.

The value is especially evident now – as, sadly, neighboring public schools cut teachers, increase class sizes and eliminate important science, arts and extra-curricular programs because of harsh budgeting responsibilities.

At JSerra, we will continue to provide students the same high caliber educational excellence we always have. We are blessed with world-class instructors like Dr. Jan Kilduff, a former NASA consultant, who teaches Chemistry.

The good news extends beyond our classrooms and onto our renowned athletic fields.

Our boys’ soccer, boys’ lacrosse and baseball teams are gearing up to defend their titles. Our soccer team already showed its promise for the coming year, winning the Capo Valley summer league. The Orange County Register said goal-scoring juniors Juan Gutierrez and Dylan Seedman “have quite possibly developed into the most dangerous duo” in Orange County soccer.

Other sports programs are poised to join them in competing for titles.

One of our most exciting new additions over the summer was our hiring of Julie Swail-Ertel. A rare two-sport U.S. Olympian, Swail-Ertel directs our aquatics program and will coach girls’ water polo. Swail-Ertel led the U.S. water polo team to a silver medal in Sydney in 2000 – and competed in the triathlon in Beijing last year. Now, she’ll share her world-class knowledge and experience with all of our students.

And, of course, there’s the great family and community tradition of high school football. We invite the community to join us in enjoying a football game or rooting for other Lions sports teams.

To view our athletic teams’ schedules, I encourage you to visit our significantly enhanced website at http://www.jserra.org. It’s also a great place to find the latest campus news. Visit frequently because we’ll be updating the site regularly.

What else is new?

JSerra is launching its international student program, and will welcome students from as far away as South Korea to our community. The program introduces students from other countries and cultures to JSerra students while giving foreign students valuable experience in the U.S.

We’re looking for host families. Each family receives a stipend for housing the students for 11 months. If you’re interested, call us at 949-493-9307 ext. 1015.

And, finally, our new community relations committee began its important work of brainstorming new ways to raise the bar on our community contributions. I’m happy to inform you that we have several well-known community leaders working with us to help JSerra be an even better neighbor. I plan to report back when the ideas turn to implementation.

As you can see, the 2009-2010 school year is already shaping up to be a memorable one.

I hope to see you on campus soon – and can’t wait to share news of our progress.